Yesterday was a great day for me. It wasn’t anything terribly special, but I made time to see some old friends and former teachers. I went to my Family Medicine’s Programs Graduation for their 10th year of graduates last night and got to see some people that I have truly missed having in my life. These were the teachers of my hot headed youth who along with my husband have helped me to realize that taking time to “think before you act or speak” is a good thing, living up to your commitments is required (even when you don’t feel like it), and that being a good doctor is worth everything that I gave up to get here.
In today’s modern world, you here a lot about what is wrong with medicine, but last night, I spent it with people – young energetic people – who reminded me what is right with medicine.
Drs. Mody were there – they took the time to bring Ella into this world. Even though I was a practicing resident at the time – she listened to my concerns and alleviated my fears through two miscarriages and finally through the birth of Ella and then was there through the terrible fears of Will (my Nephew’s) birth. She showed me compassion and grace in all her actions.
Dr. Wright, Dr. Bale, and of course Dr. Clouse was there too. I have worked under their care and training and learned the why and how of modern medical practices from each, although I admit that if I never get up to round at three in the morning again it will be too soon. Dr. V. Reddy taught me about the human heart and how to be concerned about cardiological concerns. And all my teachers in Glasgow never tired of taking TIME to teach a sometimes hot headed young doctor about life, medicine, and patience.
The other best thing about my visit last night was to see the unsung teachers of my youth and to get to hug and thank them for their patience and friendship. The nurses and staff of the TJ Sampson Family Medicine Residency Program are the finest support staff that I have ever had the privilege to work with. Kim, Faye, Angela, Nancy, Beverly, Leigh Ann, and all the other girls that I had the honor to work with on a daily basis taught me so much about being a practing MD. The nurses taught me what to expect from a nurse and from myself. When to work and when to have fun. They expected the best from me and I tried to not disappoint them. In order to be a good doctor, in my opinion, you need to take the time and patience to learn from your nurses and front office staff. They will make you a better doctor.
The other thing I learned in Glasgow, I learned from John Asriel, MD, a teacher who was not there last night and whom I missed. I know that the program will go on, but I feel for the loss of the other residents to not have know him. I remember as I graduated he ask me what I was going to do to stay current in private practice in my hometown in TN… I would like to think that my work in implementing ICU protocols for our hospital, teaching continuing education for the nurses, being in the TMA Physician Leadership College, being a AAFP Key Contact to Congress, Chairing the Pharmacy/Therapeutics committee, and my working the Agricultural world would make him and my other teachers proud of the life that Brian and I made at home.
You are never who you want to be, you are only who you are… looking back I can see the mistakes that I made in Glasgow and in Medical School for that matter. Some were small and some weren’t. I can say that I would not be the person that I am today without all of the support that I received in my residency program, so for those people in medical school who think they would like Family Medicine – GO FOR IT… its a great life. I am still proud of my Residency memories and keep my wooden memento box on my desk at work – I cannot keep up with my keys otherwise (a neat desk is a sign of an ill mind someone once told me – so trust me at least my mind is safe). I remember the joking award that I got for seeing the most patients out of my graduating class – I am still proud of that – cause that is what I do every day, see and care for patients.
The sad facts are less than 2% of the graduating classes from medical school choose family medicine and fewer of those choose rural family medicine. The hours are long, sometimes I have little privacy (i.e. getting ask to look at a boil in the grocery store or calling in a prescription right after church), and my financial burden is high with low compensation when compared to medical specialist. Then to hear even friends say – “Oh, so your not a specialist…” Yes I am!!! And proud of it, I am specialist in knowing my patients and knowing many diseases and when and to whom to reffer my patients, I care about prevention and families, and I care about my community. Some of these cares were born in me growing up in a small rural town in Tennessee with little access to health care and wanting to make it a better place and became a resolve when as I went through my medical training each specialty group tried to break my resolve to be “just a family doctor in a small town”.
I want you read my blog and live my life and see my world and still say that I am nothing but a Family Doctor. I advocate for medicine and for agriculture, I am a full time working Mom, and I care about my patients and my community.
Think about how proud I am to thank these people that have shaped who I am and think about what you want from your life. America is in a time of change and maybe agriculture and medicine aren’t your cup of tea, but I encourage each of you to know who to be thankful too, to know what is worth fighting for, and to be proud about your beliefs…